The EmDrive

 

Sometimes Real Life is as strange as fiction. Precisely as strange, in fact. Take, for example, non-Newtonian thrusters.

As everyone knows, rockets are good for zipping about hither, thither and yon, but they’re very bulky. They’re also loud, messy and very inefficient. Star Trek, of course, did away with such passé things as rockets before the first episode ever aired. Instead, they fire up thrusters which – utilizing the magic of unobtanium – move the ship without expelling actual propellant.

Totally impossible, right?

…Wrong.

In fact, since the year 2000, one man (and a succession of ever-more impressive big gun companies and/or organizations) have been trying their best to figure out just why it seems to be that a little device called the EmDrive actually works.

Here’s the short version: First of all, the theory was developed. It was promptly laughed at because, despite making mathematical sense, it was clearly impossible because it was as close to a perpetual motion machine as could be without crossing that line. Then Roger Shawyer (the device’s inventor) built one. And it worked.

And people promptly proclaimed that it was too small to be trustworthy, and that of course it couldn’t really work, and it would need to be built bigger.

So he built a bigger one. And it worked.

And people promptly scoffed, saying that it wasn’t peer-reviewed, that the facilities were inadequate, and that nobody should take him seriously.

The the Chinese built an even bigger one. And it worked. It worked so well, they decided to put it onto their satellites.

Then NASA got interested, and checked Roger’s work out… and found that surprisingly, this ‘magic’ device worked through solid – if bizarre at first glance – principles. And they built one.

And it worked.

…You can see where I’m going with this. That’s right, they’ve built another one and tested it, and it still works.

Maybe, just maybe, with some special pieces of equipment that we now know how to build, we can have flying cars inside five years after all…

Only time will tell.

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